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Children of the Land

Children of the Land

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Children of the Land

оценки:
4/5 (27 оценки)
Длина:
376 pages
7 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 28, 2020
ISBN:
9780062825605
Формат:
Книге

Описание

An NPR Best Book of the Year

A 2020 International Latino Book Award Finalists

An Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of the Year 

This unforgettable memoir from a prize-winning poet about growing up undocumented in the United States recounts the sorrows and joys of a family torn apart by draconian policies and chronicles one young man’s attempt to build a future in a nation that denies his existence.

“You were not a ghost even though an entire country was scared of you. No one in this story was a ghost. This was not a story.”

When Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was five years old and his family was preparing to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, he suffered temporary, stress-induced blindness. Castillo regained his vision, but quickly understood that he had to move into a threshold of invisibility before settling in California with his parents and siblings. Thus began a new life of hiding in plain sight and of paying extraordinarily careful attention at all times for fear of being truly seen. Before Castillo was one of the most celebrated poets of a generation, he was a boy who perfected his English in the hopes that he might never seem extraordinary.

With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, ordinary lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor.

Children of the Land distills the trauma of displacement, illuminates the human lives behind the headlines and serves as a stunning meditation on what it means to be a man and a citizen.

Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 28, 2020
ISBN:
9780062825605
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is the author of Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. prize (BOA editions 2018), winner of the 2019 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in poetry, a finalist for the Norther California Book Award and named a best book of 2018 by NPR and the New York Public Library. As one of the founders of the Undocupoets campaign, he is a recipient of the Barnes and Noble “Writers for Writers” Award. He holds a B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, People Magazine, and PBS Newshour, among others. He lives in Marysville, California where he teaches poetry to incarcerated youth and also teaches at the Ashland University Low-Res MFA program.


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  • It never took long for my father to laugh off his rage and leave it in the past, while we were still left scrambling with remnants of his emotions from three or four episodes before.

  • On paper, we were dangerous. On paper we were all of the things that people said about us on the news. But in our dim home, peacefully resting on a Sunday afternoon, we weren’t even worth the ten-cent zip ties hanging from their belts.

  • So much of my energy was spent trying to avoid getting caught. I wonder how much more I could have done with my life if I’d been spared the energy it took to survive.

  • I didn’t want to find a home. What I wanted was an origin, which was different than home, to look and see if that origin had a shape, or if I could give it one.

  • The idea of the “other” was a Western invention. And so, in order to define itself, it needed to define what it was not. I was that idea of not.

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Children of the Land - Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Dedication

For my son Julian, listo mijo

[Movement as a Trix Cereal Commercial]

There were moments when I didn’t need to tell my body how to move, moments completely new to me and yet something inside me knew exactly what to do when they came, as if I had been practicing for the Olympics. Some deep-seated knowledge rose from the very core of me. But it wasn’t instinct. It was memory. I was tapping into an inheritance that up until that moment I didn’t know I had. In this way life appeared monotonous, nothing was a surprise, but my body never really stopped shaking, a small breakwater holding back the tidal wave of the past. The first time I saw a gun it was the gun that did all the talking and part of me didn’t know who to listen to, or if I was listening at all or running.

It was a Sunday afternoon when I heard a knock on the door. The TV was on and the low sun had that familiar warmth particular to Sundays, blinding half of the screen through a crack in the curtains. My little brothers and I looked so still in our reflections. No one was really watching. Amá was in her room resting her feet, preparing to tire them again the next day.

And again, the knock, louder.

I opened the door and a man held it open, the words ICE stitched onto his vest in bright gold letters.

We’re looking for Marcelo Hernandez, he said, and before I could say anything he walked in past me, followed by three others. It happened so fast that I doubted it was actually happening. They all had their hands on their guns at the ready because you never know, right? The gun looked larger than I imagined one would look in my head. It was 2006, in the same Northern California home my family had rented for eight years and would go on to rent for another decade. I was only a senior in high school; maybe it was high time I should have seen a gun by then; I was overdue.

I knew ICE was all around us and that a raid was just on the horizon. But I couldn’t tell anyone what I was always watching for, what I was always anticipating.

I could hear Amá’s words rattle in my head. Never tell anyone. She didn’t need to remind me. I knew.

I saw them everywhere. I saw agents in trees, I saw their heads popping out of the ground like tulips, I felt their hands touching every coin in my pocket. But my mistake was that I always saw them outside—never did I think I would one day find them inside my house. For some reason I thought our house existed beyond the limits of the border, as if it was a sovereign country of its own. It was the only place I didn’t have to scrutinize myself, the only place the shaking stopped a little.

Green was still my favorite color. Their green fatigues had the afterthought of something living—green in spring, the green leaves of frangipani, iris, lily-of-the-valley overshadowed by so much color. I judged the ability of my body by its speed and weight. I judged how long it would take me to reach the back door and who would do the talking. They had the house surrounded.

Is Marcelo Hernandez home? he barked again.

I’m Marcelo Hernandez, I said. He looked at the paper in his hands as if it was the first time he was seeing it, as if he needed to go outside and check the address to make sure they had the right place. That happened sometimes; they would get the wrong address but would pick up whoever was at the house they happened to storm anyways. It was better than coming back to the office empty-handed. It was a numbers thing.

I’m looking for your father, he said, scanning the room. Who else is home?

My little brothers sat on the couch, staring at the swirls on the carpet. They were getting their first lesson in speaking only when spoken to, in answering only what was necessary. I did all the talking. In my head, I wondered if in ten or twenty years that would be my face printed on the warrant in their hands, if I was capable of taking more than just my father’s name and blood.

It had been about three years since Apá was deported in 2003. There was already nothing left of him in the house except for some old tools in the garage and the dip on his side of the bed, the outline of his absence weathered beneath the weight of his stillness over the years. Beyond that, all that remained was the likeness of my gestures to his, the way I carried my body, the way my mother said I chewed my food. Even his spare toothbrush had been thrown away long ago. It wasn’t on purpose; there wasn’t any thought to it. One day it was there and another it wasn’t. We didn’t bother trying to go through the stages of loss. We were young but could already turn off the parts of ourselves that hurt like a light switch. In ten years, I would hardly remember any of it.

The tulips sprouted. All of the leaves fell from the trees.

Surely Amá heard the noises from her room, but I knew she was still there, I knew she would never leave.

My mother is in her room but she has a heart condition and I’m afraid you might scare her. Can I please go back and tell her you are here and bring her out?

Okay, said the agent, and nodded to the others.

I went into the dark back room, waded through the thick smell of analgesic cream Amá rubbed on her joints at night. Amá asked who was in the living room. I told her not to worry. I said everything would be okay. I said it like that, okay, and grabbed her by the arm.

"Someone wants to talk with you. It will be okay. Okay. They’re looking for Apá. Everything will be okay."

I never said the word ICE, but she knew what I was talking about. I walked her out of the room and didn’t let go of her arm as we entered the living room. I knew we both had that deep knowledge of flight inside of us although neither of us had ever spoken of it to each other. This wasn’t the fight-or-flight instinct we all have, it was particular to immigrants because although everything inside us told us to run, we didn’t. I knew her muscles were tensing just like mine even if she wasn’t able to run in her older age like I was. And yet, holding her, I wasn’t sure if I was keeping her from falling, or keeping her from running away. I could feel her body digging up memories of past raids. What if my body ran away involuntarily? What if it left Amá behind out of instinct or some generational memory? I wasn’t sure what I was or wasn’t capable of doing.

The paper in their hands had Apá’s picture on it. It was a recent picture. I wondered where they got it. It looked like the one they took when they deported him. One of the agents went into the rooms, looking in all the closets, and beneath the beds, ransacking the drawers. They shuffled through Amá’s things and checked the bathroom to see how many toothbrushes there were. They wanted to find traces of him, and perhaps, if they were lucky, even the warmth of the bed where he slept next to Amá, not just the crevice. But they only found the life we had to make up without him, nothing more.

According to their records he had never left, or perhaps they thought he had returned. At first I thought it was a clerical mistake. Someone, somewhere in a small office lined with plants, may have hit a wrong button, and because of that, ten or so ICE agents surrounded our house and three held their guns pointed to the ground in front of us. I was certain they knew everything about me, my crushes, my fears, my deep longing to wander. I was sure they had been watching me for a very long time.

How long has he been gone? the agent asked my mother, and I answered because he asked in English, which she did not know. I did this often to avoid the brief and awkward silence that followed when such questions were thrown at her. I had always been a good translator; all of our doctor visits translating for my mother had trained me for this. I took out my phone and showed him my contacts and pointed to the bright little screen. It said Apá with a number from Mexico. I didn’t have a calling card to dial out of the country and knew it would be expensive to call him without one but called anyways. I called as my only proof that he was indeed in Mexico and not with us, but he didn’t answer. I thought back to the times I wished he didn’t answer only to hear the familiar click of his phone coming on. I called again, hoping this time Apá would answer to tell them how far away he was, to describe everything around him as if he were on vacation, talking to his friends back home about how pretty it was. Again, no answer. How else could I tell them that there was nothing here for them; not me, not my brothers, not my mother, and certainly not my father? Sometimes I stuttered when talking to adults, but in such situations I was calm as if the panicked part of me had run.

The other agents came back after looking for evidence of him and finding none. Our house looked like he had never been there. The agent took my phone and wrote down the number I called. We’ll be in touch, he said, turned around, and left as quickly as he came. They all shuffled out the door. It was quiet again, but our ears were ringing.

Such a small mistake, such a small event. Maybe they took pity on us. Maybe we weren’t worth their time. If so, I had never been more grateful to be that worthless. Maybe one of them had big plans for the evening and didn’t want to bother with the paperwork, it was Sunday after all, there was a football game that mattered more than us. On paper, we were dangerous. On paper we were all of the things that people said about us on the news. But in our dim home, peacefully resting on a Sunday afternoon, we weren’t even worth the ten-cent zip ties hanging from their belts.

We stood there, frozen, unsure of what to do. The inner urge to flee was replaced with paralyzed submission—we were cemented in place. In that moment, if anyone wished to do so, they could have walked through our door, commanded us to cut ourselves open, and we would have probably listened. Through the window, I saw many armed agents get into three vans and drive away. The vans were unmarked; the only sign of who was inside was the tires, riding low from all the agents packed inside.

When the last van drove away, we clicked back into movement as if someone had hit the pause button until then. They could have taken us all if they wanted to. Perhaps the fact that they left us was their punishment—We’ll be in touch—a message that there was nowhere we could hide, that they were always watching. They let us go only to let us know they could always just as easily pick us up again. We would never again close our eyes, we would never again release the tension in our bodies. Never again would Sunday afternoons be quiet. The voice in our heads that told us someone was watching would from that point on never stop, even if we tried to bang it out with a hammer. I would have paid anyone anything to make it stop. But I would never again be able to unwind at home, to take my shoes off and completely let my body go. Home was suddenly something to add to the list of dangers. I had nowhere else to go.

Outside, things continued as they were. The TV was still running. The sun was still making everything move slower beneath its Sunday gold. As if we ever doubted their perpetual presence looming above us, they came when we least would have expected it. They wanted to disrupt any semblance of normalcy that we might have attained after having lived in the United States for decades. But in order for a disruption to occur, they first had to recognize that we lived a normal life, they had to accept that we, too, were like everyone else, falling into the habits and routines of peaceful American life. Once they accepted our commonality, they used it against us. They stormed.

Nothing was safe. We sat in our living room and held each other as we sobbed quietly. For a moment immediately after their departure even holding each other felt like pinpricks. Amá had lost us once before to the immigration system, and she held us tight because she thought she was going to lose us again. We were separated as children, and even though I was much younger that first time, even though I was beyond despair, I feared deportation more than I feared ending my life. If I failed or succeeded, the rest of the family would be investigated and split either way. I had long ago embraced futility before I knew there was even a word for it.

Even though we weren’t taken on that quiet Sunday afternoon, we knew we easily could have been, and that possibility corroded us from the inside. I forgot what my mother looked like before the perpetual panic draped itself over her face. I couldn’t imagine her any more beautiful. But since it was only my first and my mother’s fourth (?), fifth (?), eighth (?) raid, perhaps she always looked the same, and it was just my vision that had gotten clearer.

From that moment forward, I never stood still, my nervousness spiked unimaginably high. We never opened our door or windows again. What was once sweet now had the bitter aftertaste of uncured olives.

It didn’t matter how good I was at hiding, I knew they would always find me if they wanted. It was useless to blend in, to not bring attention to myself—speak neither too loud nor too soft. It didn’t matter if I perfected my English—speak like a person who is wandering but not lost. It was useless to try to negotiate two worlds at once when only one of them was visible while the other one threatened to collapse. And yet I tried, but it came at a price. So much of my energy was spent trying to avoid getting caught. I wonder how much more I could have done with my life if I’d been spared the energy it took to survive.

The next day I went to school. Amá went to work. I ate quietly with my mouth shut in the cafeteria. I had to tell myself when to swallow. Things no longer happened by themselves, I had to tell my body how to do them. Even laughter required some kind of effort. I had to remind myself: this is funny, this is how you laugh—laugh now, laugh hard, spit out your food.

First Movement: DACA

1.

I am trying to dissect the moment of my erasure.

—wendy xu, Notes for an Opening

I never knew where my grandfather Jesús was buried, only that he’s been lying somewhere in the desert of Sonora for the last sixty years. Our family thought he was buried somewhere in a town called Empalme. We were almost sure he got a proper Catholic burial, but there was nothing proper about it.

Six miles above the earth, on a flight returning to the country of my birth with my wife, Rubi, after a twenty-year absence, I looked out the window at the desert below to see what my grandfather couldn’t see six decades before—how, despite its seeming endlessness, the landscape did have limits, it did have an end. From the sky, anything seemed possible. We were in the space between two countries, along that indiscriminate line where perhaps even time was irrelevant. In the sky, I could stand still, something I couldn’t normally do back home, something no one in my family was ever able to do. We were traveling from the Midwest to see my father for the first time in ten years since he was deported to Mexico. It was 2013, and I thought I was still young enough to want to start things over between us. Flying thousands of feet above the border, I felt fluid. I positioned myself against powers larger than me.

Apá could not, and did not, return to the U.S. after his 2003 deportation. My mother had warned him not to test his luck by continuing to go back and forth under precarious conditions, but he wouldn’t listen, and he ended up paying the price for it. I had just received DACA and applied for an advanced parole permit, which allowed recipients a special pass to leave the country and be allowed to legally return only under extraordinary circumstances in the face of an emergency. Apá recently had prostate surgery, and I didn’t know if this would be my only window of opportunity to see him. Simply not seeing a father for a decade would qualify as an emergency in any situation.

As it turned out, due to this visit and my legal reentry into the U.S. with the advanced parole permit, I would be allowed to one day apply for a green card through marriage without ever having to leave the country. Without it, I stood a chance of facing the same ten-year exile from the country that he was facing. DACA, and advanced parole, was my only hope of avoiding a life that looked anything like my father’s: moving back and forth between countries until being forced to stay in one. And yet I still had a reason all to myself for returning, a reason that had nothing to do with immigration, or my father. I wanted to go see a mountain.

[First Movement Before Me Against the Wall]

My mother was the youngest child of seven, and her only memory of her father Jesús is when she was four, in 1958, and hearing him whistle as he approached their ranch on the mountain, La Loma, after being gone for months, working in the U.S. under the bracero program. He was a kind man, tall and slender. She could never remember the song, but she could always still hear the tune in her head many years later. Her father dropped his small bag near an avocado tree, and she ran up to hug him around his waist. He asked her to wash his red bandana, so she brought a bucket, filled it with water from the trough, and rubbed it between her hands. He wrapped it around his neck to cool himself down, and they finished the song together.

In her memory, his face is blurry, but the red bandana and the tune are as clear today as they were in 1958. It was the color, it was the sound. They say she looks like him; they say if he would have lived longer, she would have grown to be his favorite; maybe she already was. Because she was the youngest, she was spared from having to work in the fields. She spent her days stealing eggs from the henhouse and trading them at the store for candies and a box of cigarettes to give to her older brother. She would also place batteries on top of a hot rock in the sun to give them a little more juice. When that stopped working, she rolled them carefully over a fire, hoping there was even a minute more left in them for the radio. At night, Amá would climb up to the roof of her house, click the batteries in, and carefully tune to stations as far away as Laredo. They sold a cow to buy that radio. She liked boleros, rumbas, and danzón. She listened closely through the static at the soft voices of romantic cosmopolitan trios. She didn’t know how far Laredo was, but she knew it was in the direction of where her father came from, where he would leave again and would not return.

Her father would be dead the next year in Sonora, on his way to the U.S. The gangrene began in his foot and slowly crept up his body like endless tendrils of a seed. They told him not to go, but he would not listen. For generations, one thing was clear; the men in my family seemed experts at ignoring the warnings of the women.

Amá’s earliest memory of her mother, whom we called Amá Julia, is of them sitting beneath the same tree outside the courtyard walls of that same ranch, La Loma. Her mother wrapped her in a shawl and they sat huddled together on a rock, listening to the birds roosting for the evening in the trees. It was the evening chorus that makes birds feel as if they are as large as their songs carried over the valley, announcing themselves, saying I’m still here, as if there were any doubt about it. The stars were innumerable and soon the night would fall with its absolute darkness, because no one had electricity up on the mountain. It was so dark that everything seemed to be on fire when even the slightest light from the sun emerged in the morning, as if by noon it would all be burned to the ground. Amá said that never again were there as many stars in her life.

When the news came that her husband Jesús died, Amá Julia and her seven children all wore black dresses for six months as a rite of mourning. Julia, the new widow, turned every single picture of Jesús hanging on the walls around so that his face looked away—his head pushed against the cool adobe clay. The frames stayed that way until her own death many years later. My mother’s entire time in that house was spent looking at the backs of frames. Neither she nor any of her sisters were ever allowed to turn them over to see what their father looked like. They were obedient; these were traditions of the past, not to be trifled with.

In his final years, Jesús drank himself into debt. When he ran out of money, he used the land he inherited as collateral. It was said that he would give an entire plot of land in exchange for a bottle of tequila. All he had left to trade was the ranch of La Loma, but he died before he could sell it. Amá Julia worked the rest of her life sewing dresses, selling her cattle’s offspring, and growing corn to pay off his debt. She never remarried. She said she didn’t want another man living in her house because she had too many beautiful daughters.

Years after Amá Julia’s death, when they were certain her spirit would forgive them, the family finally decided to turn the pictures on the wall over. They mailed the pictures to the U.S., and for the first time since she was four, Amá saw her father’s face. All those years she had dreamed of him and what he might look like. All those years that his face was just a smudge in her memory left her feeling guilty, guilty that she remembered a useless piece of cloth and a meaningless whistle instead of her father’s face. And all those years he was right there, pushed against the wall, looking away.

Although she doesn’t drink, Amá admits that she likes the smell of tequila. Like their father too, her sisters like to smoke now and then as they sit around a table playing cards, taking small sips of mezcal, raising a cup to their father, who now looks straight at them, hanging from the wall above their heads.

2.

On the plane, I wondered if there was an exact point when we were no longer in one country and inside another, or if there was ever a moment when I occupied no country. If ever that was possible, it was possible up in the air. There was no clear correlation between what was happening down below and up above. I had heard that at the official port of entry there were turnstiles, just like the subway, ushering the travelers forward. If such turnstiles existed, you could map the precise moment when half of your body was here and the other half was there. I could measure; all I wanted was that little gold stamp that said I clicked past onto the other side, I entered, I returned, I was measured, counted for, recorded.

Would a sudden coldness come over us when our bodies moved over the actual line of the border? Wasn’t that how loneliness began, with the coldness of our bodies?

[First Movement Before Me as Salt]

Amá Julia poured salt into the shapes of crosses at the edges of her fields to save the crops and protect them from evil—whispering a soft prayer beneath her breath.

I imagine her in a long wool rebozo during the rainy season, walking out across a damp meadow in the morning, with a small bag of salt in one hand and a rosary in the other. One part of her religion was as ancient as olives or bells, not written in any biblical text. It was meant to save her seven children from hunger.

Amá, too young to work, walked through the damp field with no shoes, the soft dirt parting beneath her soles. The only sounds came from a distant wind, the earth muffling her steps as she counted seeds in her hand. It’s not possible to imagine any other sound in that moment. The sisters could go days without talking up on that mountain, without hearing anything louder than a bird’s call. And sometimes, Amá said, the air was so thick and heavy that it smothered even the bird’s songs, so much so that you felt like you were walking underwater—your clothes and your shoes weighed you down to the earth by the stillness. She said you could feel the penetrating silence on your clothes, as if it was something you could wash away, or something you could carry with you far away into another country. And my mother did carry it around like a glove that had no pair because her silence always felt like it was missing something. How I wished I could go even one day without uttering a single sound.

Perhaps the only sound was that of Amá Julia, shaking salt at the edge of the field, salt falling over her like snow, glittering in the air. So much salt that the crops no longer grew in the fallow corner. So much salt that they didn’t even resemble crosses anymore, just small white mounds broken only by her dark wool dress dragging behind her in the morning breeze—her thin lips mumbling a soft prayer through her teeth. Eventually her children would go north and leave her. They would be back with their own stories and their own children, with their own silences, some of whom she would never meet in this life.

3.

When I developed black-and-white photos in my high school art class, I erased all the grayness from their resolution because I believed you didn’t need gradients to understand an image. I believed in black and white and nothing else. I won an award because even though I deformed the images beyond recognition, people could still see through them and understand them. I wanted someone to look at them and know what they were looking at despite everything I had done. Everything was either light or it was a tree.

You were either in one country or you were in another, there was no in between. Black and white. I had no patience for gray.

There was nothing I could do to stop the plane from charging forward. It felt like we were going too fast, I was afraid I would miss the moment we would officially cross over. The border existed both outside me as well as within. I smiled at the flight attendant, who smiled back, I ate my wife’s Biscoff, and I pressed my face to the window.

[First Movement Before Me as Myth and Knife]

During a storm, my Amá Julia lifted her hands high and made the sign of the cross in the air with a knife. Before her time, her mother Josefina, whom they called Pepa, used to make the sign of the cross with a child and recite the Magnificat until the storm subsided. My soul magnifies the Lord . . . Because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid . . .

The child would die in the process of the prayer, but the crops would be saved. It was the price to be paid to save an entire family, or perhaps even all of the ranches on the mountain. It was the price paid to avoid hunger. Maybe that’s just what they told themselves, that the child died from the curse, not wanting to say that it died because it went hungry.

4.

When I came undocumented to the U.S., I crossed into a threshold of invisibility. Every act of living became an act of trying to remain visible. I was negotiating a simultaneous absence and presence that was begun by the act of my displacement: I am trying to dissect the moment of my erasure. I tried to remain seen for those whom I desired to be seen by, and I wanted to be invisible to everyone else. Or maybe I was trying to control who remembered me and who forgot me. But I couldn’t control what someone else saw in me, only persuade them that it was an illusion. There were things that I could not hide, things that would come out of me and expose me in my most vulnerable moments. It was my skin, my dark hair, my cheekbones, that I swore would give me away. I was afraid of the way I walked. It was easy to imagine being hit by a car, because even if they didn’t see me, I would for once be able to feel my body as more than smoke.

[First Movement Before Me as the Blood Moon]

Amá Julia believed that if a woman was expecting a child, she should not go outside during an eclipse and should stay away from the windows—lock herself up. She had to wear red underwear or at least something red on her and safety pins on her body.

When a child died, they never said it died, they said it was stolen. The ocean took her, the moon took her, or a witch who was jealous took her.

To prevent such thefts, the mothers wore red to fool the moon into believing they were dead or that they had miscarried. They stayed indoors and lay still to mimic their own death, since it was common for the newly dead to remain in the house longer than it is today. They needed at least nine days for the novenario.

Death was different then. It was something they allowed into their

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Отзывы критиков

  • Poet Marcelo Hernandez Castillo tried to remain invisible for much of his early life, so that his undocumented family wouldn't be found out. Now he lays bare all the pain he had to hide for so long in this heart-wrenching memoir about navigating a punishing immigration system and the fracturing of his family.

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  • (4/5)
    The raw emotion and vulnerability-impeccable. I thoroughly enjoyed the true emotion displayed on each page.
  • (5/5)
    The story itself I love it it makes me go back to many chapters in my life..
  • (5/5)
    When a poet writes a memoir the language they weave into their story is unforgettable. I am in awe of this book and believe everyone should read it. The reflections against migration, living in the United States while trying to remain invisible, the energy expended in that mode of living, domestic abuse, toxic masculinity, colorism, and so many themes are explored in this book. You will come out of this loving the book. I can't see anyone not liking it.